New York City: Best Free Things

There are so many things to do in a city like New York, and the best part is that a lot of them are FREE! I put together a little list of some of my favorite free things I did while I was in New York City.

  1. Central Park – There is so much to do here! We visited on a Sunday afternoon so the park was really busy, with people everywhere. After being in the city for a few days, it was so refreshing to spend some time surrounded by nature…even if it is all manmade! I loved walking around and finding places from different movies and listening to street performers. It was a great place to people watch, soak up some sun, and just relax. You can wander on foot, or rent bikes if you want to see more of the Park faster. I also recommend enjoying a nice picnic while you’re there!
  2. Brooklyn Bridge – If you go to New York, you have to see the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t really do much in Brooklyn, but we did make it down to trek across the bridge (along with hundreds of other people). It was a holiday so maybe it isn’t usually as busy, but there were TONS of people there. This would be another fun thing to do if you wanted to rent a bike. I went on foot, but there is a path for walkers and a separate one for bikers. There was a nice breeze in the air and it was fun just walking from one end of the bridge to the other!Brooklyn Bridge--New York CityBrooklyn Bridge--New York City
  3. Upper East Side and Upper West Side – Both of these areas are really fun to explore. There are a lot of fun places and I liked just stumbling upon hidden treasures. The nice thing about Manhattan is that everything is so close together. We started on the Upper West Side and wandered around a little bit. Then we proceeded to head through Central Park for a bit and ended on the Upper East Side. The Upper East Side had a ton of little specialty shops – we walked into one store that only sold pillowcases!
  4. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – We visited St. Patrick’s on our first night in the city. After a long day of airports, subway rides, and sightseeing, we were both pretty exhausted. We walked into the cathedral and just sat in one of the pews for a solid 30 minutes. It was such a relaxing time. It was almost like we had stepped into a whole different world. The staff there were so friendly and nice, even though we walked in right at closing time. I highly recommend stopping by for a visit. 
  5. Trinity Church – We continued our visits to beautiful churches by visiting Trinity Church on Wall Street and Broadway. My main reason for visiting Trinity Church was to visit the graveyard and see the graves of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Hamilton, and Angelica Schuyler Church (the obsession is real). We walked around the graveyard for a bit; they have a really cool monument for Revolutionary War Soldiers. The architecture of this church is amazing as well. It was a beautiful place to stop and sit for a bit. 
  6. 9/11 Memorial – This memorial is definitely worth a visit. The memorial is free, but you can buy a ticket to go to the museum. We went to the museum and I am glad we did; I will be talking more about the museum soon! The memorial itself is beautiful. While we were standing at the memorial, we noticed some of the names had flowers next to them, and we found out that every morning the staff at the memorial places those flowers in the names of the victims who have birthdays that day. It was a really moving tribute.img_1923-1
  7. Grand Central Station – Grand Central Terminal is truly spectacular. The architecture of the building is so detailed, and I loved the giant zodiac sign on the ceiling. There are shops and restaurants too. We spent a good amount of time at Grand Central because it was our main subway stop. On our very last day in the city, we grabbed some goodies from Magnolia Bakery and sat and did some people watching. Make sure you pay a visit, and bring your selfie stick! 


So there you have it! These were some of my favorite free things that we did while we were in New York!


What are some of your favorite free things to do in New York?


Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.

New York City: Apps

I don’t typically use a lot of apps. I usually keep very few apps on my phone (mainly because I would rather have the storage space for pictures :)). But I ended up using a couple apps in New York that were SUPER helpful. So here are my top 4 apps to use in New York City!

  • Yelp: This app was great for finding food places close to our location. There are so many categories and search fields that make it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. My favorite feature in this app is that you can sort by places that are “open now” so you don’t waste your time going somewhere that is already closed.
  • New York Subway: This app has a great overall subway map. In Europe I just used a printed map (I may as well have painted the word “tourist” across my forehead), but it got the job done and I didn’t get lost! With this app you can search for your destination and it will tell you how to get there. I found that the Citymapper app was a little more user friendly, but I did like that the New York Subway app had a map of the whole subway system that you could look at and see everything.
  • Central Park: Central Park is a great place to wander around, but if you are looking to find something specific, this is the app for you! This app offers a great map of the Park and shows you where to find popular landmarks, statues, bathrooms, and more. You can also view events in the Park from the app. There is even a built-in audio guide on the app!
  • Citymapper: This was hands down the best app that I used in New York. For first timers in New York with limited subway experience, this app was a life saver. The best thing is that you type in where you want to go and, from your location, it will show you different routes to get there. It tells you which stations to transfer at and even lets you know which part of the train will be less busy. The other great thing about this map is that it highlights the direction you are facing, so when you come up from the subway and are back on the street, you can tell which direction you are facing and which direction you need to go!


So there you have it. Those were my tops apps for New York City!


Did I miss any important apps for New York? What are some of your favorites? Like and comment below!


Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.

New York City: Lodging and Transportation

A few months ago I saw something on Pinterest that said the cheapest time to book airline tickets is Tuesday at 3pm, 6 weeks before your departure date. I decided to put this to the test when we booked flights to NYC. I checked flight pricing once a week leading up to 6 weeks prior to departure, and here is what I found:

  • 9 weeks prior: Flights were between $350-400 and most flights had at least one layover. The cheapest flights landed at Newark or Laguardia, not JFK.
  • 8 weeks prior: Flights were right around the same as week 9.
  • 7 weeks prior: Flights got a little more expensive – most were listed between $400-$500, and most included a layover.
  • 6 weeks prior: I must admit I was really nervous at this point; I was starting to think that we should have just booked the tickets when they were $350. But that Tuesday, fate smiled down upon us. We got online and hit the jackpot! We found roundtrip tickets for $312 (including tax) on a direct flight with Delta (one of my personal favorite airlines) from SLC-JFK. We booked the tickets and didn’t look back.

I am going to keep researching this little trick to make sure this wasn’t just a stroke of luck, so I will be sure to update with my findings!

Delta Airlines--Salt Lake International Airport

After we had the plane tickets (which were non-refundable), we needed to find a place to stay – you know, just a minor detail. But it turned out to be a lot harder than I was thinking it would be.

It turns out that hotels in Manhattan are EXPENSIVE! All the places we were looking at were either way out of our price range or in a sketchy part of the city. I spent hours doing price comparisons. We did find a lot of good options through Airbnb, but most of them weren’t in a convenient area. Lots of them were in Brooklyn, which was a little farther out than we wanted to be. It didn’t help that it was a holiday weekend and demand was high.

Then one lovely afternoon, I read a blog post about a hotel called Pod 51. There are two Pod hotels in Manhattan (Pod 39 and Pod 51), located on 39th Street and 51st Street. We ended up booking a room at Pod 39 because it was the best option we had seen and we were down to crunch time. (We booked about 3 weeks before we arrived, which was giving me a minor panic attack!) It is located in Midtown Manhattan and was so close to everything!

They have a lot of different room size/options available. Because there were just two of us and we wanted the cheapest thing we could find, we booked the “Mini-Bunk” room, with “mini” being the keyword there. When we checked in and walked into the room, we both just started laughing. My closet at home is literally the same size as the room. BUT despite the cramped quarters, we had a clean place to sleep and our own bathroom. Some of the other rooms shared a bathroom.

We fondly referred to it as our “closet” for the rest of the trip. But honestly, I loved it. It really gave us a true New York experience! Overall, Pod 39 reminded me of a boutique hostel that I stayed at while in Paris last fall. It was a clean place to rest our heads, plus it was only a 5-minute walk to Grand Central Station, and from there we could get just about anywhere!

Grand Central Station--New York City--Subway

The staff was really great. I received a lot of email correspondence prior to arriving and the check-in/check-out process was a breeze!

When we arrived at JFK, we took the subway to get to our hotel. This was surprisingly easy and WAY cheaper than taking a cab. You can get on a shuttle right at the airport that takes you to the Jamaica Station, where you can switch to the subway.

It costs about $4.00 to ride the transit from the airport (you pay at the end of the ride when you get to the Jamaica stop). You can also buy a MetroCard here. The MetroCard was one of the best investments we made. It cost about $30.00 and we could ride the subway as much as we wanted for 7 days; we were only there for 5 days, but it was definitely worth it. We were able to get everywhere we needed to go on the subway!

New York--Subway

We decided that instead of taking the subway back to the airport (which would have been fine, but we just didn’t want to haul all of our stuff through the subway) we would just take a cab. It turned out that Pod 39 offered a car service. It was $65 for a ride to JFK for up to 3 people. We decided that $33 bucks each was worth it.

After checking out, we walked outside to find a limo waiting for us! We were dying of excitement. My first limo ride was the perfect way to end the perfect New York vacation!

New York City
My first limo ride!!!



Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.

New York City: Highlights

If you follow our Instagram (@athomeandabroad) you know that we have been doing lots of traveling in the last few weeks! We are finally back and ready to share all of our adventures with you!

The next few weeks I (Kaycie) have lot to share about one of the greatest cities in the world, New York City! I was lucky enough to spend 5 days in New York with one of my best friends, at the beginning of the September.

Our days in New York were action packed and we got to see and do so many fun things! I can’t wait to share them all with you! I figured it would be better to talk about each on in detail! So stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from some of the highlights of the trip!

St. Patrick's Cathedral--New York, New York

Brooklyn Bridge--New York City, New York
Brooklyn Bridge
Love Sign--New York, New York

Manhattan Island--New York, New York

Statue of Liberty--Liberty Island--New York, New York
Lady Liberty
Liberty Island looking to Manhattan--New York City
“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of”

Empire State Building--New York, New York

Richard Rodger's Theatre--Hamilton--New York, New York

Imperial Theatre--Les Miserables--New York, New York
I’ve always wanted a real Playbill from Broadway!
Richard Rodger's Theatre--Hamilton--New York, New York
My Angelica Schuyler debut!

Museum of Modern Art--New York, New York

Museum of Modern Art--Vincent Van Gogh--Starry Night
Finally got to see my favorite painting!
Carlo's Bakery--Times Square--New York, New York
Cannoli’s at Carlo’s



Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.

Throwback Thursday

Over the last few weeks, both Caroline and I have been doing lots of traveling! We have lots in store and can’t wait to share. We haven’t quite finished writing, so today I am going to share about my most recent trip to California. The last several weeks I have been writing about his trip, and today I will be wrapping it up with the main event: ADELE Live.

Adele Live--Staples Center--Los Angeles California

Before I dive in, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE going to concerts. I have been to some amazing concerts, which I will share about more some day. It is always fun for me to see artists perform live. There is something about live music that is so captivating. Maybe it’s being there in the same room and feeling the emotions, or maybe it is just the concert environment, but there is just something special about it.

Adele was no exception.

Adele Live--Staples Center--Los Angeles California
This was the closest I could zoom in from my seat in the nosebleeds!😉

The best thing about Adele is how delightfully unexpected she is. Her music is so dramatic and mature. I guess I was expecting her to be somewhat serious, but she was the complete opposite of serious – she was funny, spunky, and honest. Her personality stole the show.

She was hilarious and interacted so much with the crowd, more so than any other artist I have seen live. I told my mom that I would have been perfectly content to just sit there and listen to her talk for 3 hours.

I think if I ever have the pleasure of meeting Adele in person, we will become instant friends. She was not afraid to be herself and her onstage personality was just her – no rehearsed speeches, just her and a mic talking to her fans as if they were her best friends.

And to top it off, the music was INCREDIBLE! I was literally BLOWN away. Honestly, when she came on for the opening song, I wondered to myself if she was lipsyncing or if she really just sounded that good live. Turns out, she just sounds that good live.

Adele Live--Staples Center--Los Angeles California

After the show, my mom said (and I 100% agree) that her live performance sounded better than the recorded album.

To no one’s surprise, Adele sold out all 8 shows at the Staples Center in LA. Tickets were gone in a flash! People have asked me what my tricks are to getting tickets to so many shows. Really, there is just one secret: you have to buy the tickets early.

If there is an artist coming that I really want to see, I add myself to the fan email list weeks before tickets go on sale. Typically members of that email list get first dibs on pre-sale tickets. Then when the day comes, you better be ready with credit card info in hand to get the first tickets you can add to your cart. I get an adrenaline rush every time!

Adele Live--Staples Center--Los Angeles California

To all my fellow Adele fans out there, I hope you all have the opportunity to see her perform live at some point in her life. Even though it doesn’t seem possible, you will love her even more!

What are some of your favorite concert experiences? Leave us a comment below!


Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.



Throwback Thursday: Chicago

Tomorrow morning I head out for New York City. I am super excited about the trip! As I have prepared for this trip, I have been thinking about my first trip to a big city. My family took a trip several years ago to visit some family in Chicago. It was my first trip to a big city and the first time I flew on a plane!

Buckingham Fountain--Chicago Illinois USA

I think that it’s safe to say that it was on this vacation that I fell in love with traveling. I was captivated by everything in the city – I couldn’t believe all the tall buildings and people everywhere. I guess that is what happens when you grow up in a small town! Haha.

We had a very busy trip trying to see and do everything. We visited during April, which turned out to be FREEZING! But even with the cold weather, we had a great time! (We have since been back to Chicago again, in July, which was MUCH warmer but also came with bigger crowds.)

We got to do basically everything while we were there. Here is what I would recommend:

  • The Museum of Science and Industry: if you can only make it to one museum, go to this one. It is really interactive and great for kids. It’s a big museum, so plan on being there pretty much all day.

The Museum of Science and Industry--Chicago Illinios

  • Millennium Park: I loved this area. This park includes some of those “must-see” sites like Crown Fountain and the Bean!

Crown Fountain in Millennium Park Downtown Chicago

  • The Art Institute: Can you really go anywhere without going to at least one art museum? They have some really interesting collections here and it is definitely worth a visit. Plus once a week they have a free night to visit the museum!
  • Architecture River Cruise: If you are there in a warmer month, this is a really nice tour, especially if you are interested in architecture. I loved touring the city from the Chicago River.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois

Other highlights of the trip included: The Natural History Museum, The Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium. We bought the Chicago CityPass when we went, which got us into all of the museums. We also went to the top of Sears Tower. That is one thing that I wouldn’t do again; it was cool to see the city from up so high, but I think there were many better options we could have spent our time on.

Buckingham Fountain--Chicago Illinois USA

Another very important thing to do in Chicago is to eat Chicago-style pizza (in my opinion, the best pizza in the world). Two main Chicago-style pizzerias are Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. My recommendation is to try them both and see which one you like best! You just can’t go wrong when it comes to Chicago-style pizza!

No matter what your interests are, Chicago has a little something for everyone!

The Grand Tour

Hello everyone! Caroline here. As you may or may not know, both Kaycie and I are heading off this week on some wonderful travel adventures. Kaycie is headed to NYC with her friend Emmali, while I’m off to Europe for a couple weeks with my mom. I haven’t talked much about my upcoming travels yet, but here’s what my trip has in store:


I’m starting my journey in London. While the main reason for choosing London was a special exhibition at the British Museum that I simply cannot miss (this is the usual reason people go to London, right?), I’m very excited to see everything else London has to offer. I’ve been to London twice before as part of study abroad programs during my undergrad, but there are still a few places we’re going to visit that I haven’t seen yet – including tours at the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London.


From London, we’re flying to Rome. Incidentally, we will be in Rome ON MY BIRTHDAY, which makes me very excited. I’ve been to Rome a few times before as well; it’s tied with Paris for my favorite city in the world, and I’m so looking forward to being there again. It’s okay to eat gelato for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner if it’s my birthday, right? My other goal in Rome is to see as much Michelangelo as possible!


After a few days in Rome, we board our cruise ship! This will be my second-ever cruise, my first Princess cruise, my first cruise with my mom, and my first Mediterranean cruise.


Our first port is Naples, where we will be able to go on excursions to Pompeii and Capri. Again, I’ve been to these places before, but it’s been years and I’m so excited to see them again!


We were originally supposed to go to Turkey on this cruise, but the cruise line cancelled our stops in Turkey due to the unrest there. I’m disappointed, but I’m glad they are careful about our safety. Montenegro is one of the ports that was added when Turkey was removed. I’ve never been to Montenegro before, and I’m eager to see what this beautiful country has to offer!


We have four stops in Greece: Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, and Athens. I’ve been to Athens before, but I’ll be a first-timer at the others! These destinations look beautiful, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture, people, food, history, and architecture at each of these ports. From beaches and quaint towns to churches and ancient ruins, Greece has a lot to offer. Our cruise concludes in Athens, where my mom and I will spend an extra day or two to see some essentials, like the Acropolis, the Agora, the New Acropolis Museum, the Arch of Hadrian, and more. And then we head back to the US!

While I’ve been to several of these places before, I am ALWAYS open to suggestions of things to see, places to go, and foods to eat, so please feel free to comment with your recommendations.

Keep Up!

On another note, we will continue to post here on At Home & Abroad while we are gone (with huge thanks to Kaycie for keeping things on track while I’m off the grid in Europe). Also be sure to keep up with our Instagram – there are certain to be tons of great posts and stories as we travel!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.